Forum Chair urges legacy moment for Pacific and Dialogue partners on urgent climate change action: Opening statement by Tuvalu PM to Kainaki to COP 26

Kainaki II to COP 26 – Pacific Islands Forum High-Level Roundtable on Urgent Climate Change Action
Friday 11 December

Agenda item 1 – Opening

Opening statement for Forum Chair, Hon. Kausea Natano, Prime Minister of Tuvalu

Thank you, Secretary General Dame Meg, Excellencies, heads of state, honourable Prime Ministers of the Pacific Islands Forum, Honourable ministers, distinguished representatives of Forum Dialogue Partners, Ladies and Gentlemen, Talofa, and greetings from Tuvalu.

At the outset, let me welcome your Excellencies to the first virtual meeting of leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule and especially, making yourselves available during this global health crisis.

Excellencies, we meet as Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum, and as Forum Dialogue Partners, on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement with one goal in mind – to drive ambitious climate change action, now.

Five years ago, on 12th December 2015, Forum Leaders joined with global leaders to deliver the Paris Agreement on climate change.

It was a milestone moment for multilateralism and for protecting all people and the planet. It charted a new course for global climate change action; one in which we committed to raise our ambition, with enhanced support to vulnerable, developing countries.

Critically for our Blue Pacific continent, the Paris Agreement delivered a commitment to pursue efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius, to secure the future of our region.

Five years on, we must now ask ourselves: are we making the necessary policy and behavioural change to keep us on the 1.5 degree pathway?

From the perspective of the Blue Pacific, the answer is simple: no, we are not.

We must now change this course. We must take the necessary action. And we must protect our people and planet.

Fellow Leaders and partners, climate change is the single greatest threat to the livelihoods and wellbeing of our region.

The latest scientific evidence shows that we are already at 1.2 degree Celsius. This is causing our seas to rise, our oceans to warm, and is increasing the intensity of extreme weather events inflicting damage and destruction on our peoples, our ecosystems, economies and countries. Indeed, last year alone, disasters cost the world $150 billion.
And yet, carbon dioxide levels are at record highs – and rising. In 2020, the upward trend continued despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Current policies and actions put us on a trend to exceed 1.5 degree Celsius by as early as 2030 and reach a catastrophic 3 degrees Celsius or more by the end of this century.

We need urgent climate change action now. We need to move faster.

In 2019, Forum Leaders issued the Kainaki II Declaration – the most comprehensive and ambitious climate change declaration issued by all eighteen Forum Leaders. Today, we reaffirm our calls in the Declaration, as we prepare towards COP26, and seek the support of our Dialogue Partners in turning them into action.

COVID-19 must not be a reason to delay climate change action. Rather, it should serve as motivation to the global community to better prepare for shocks, underpin our policy with science, and bolster multilateral efforts to tackle common threats.

Indeed, we must ensure that financing for COVID-19 recovery efforts advances the goals of the Paris Agreement and puts us on a course for climate smart, sustainable development.

Starting from today, let us collectively raise our ambition to translate our climate change commitments into reality.

The climate change situation is becoming dire. But we still have time to act to protect our planet and way of life.

All countries, with no caveats, must take decisive and transformative action to reduce global emissions, and ensure at-scale mitigation and adaptation support for those countries that need it.

We must act now. We must raise our ambition. We must act with conviction.

Together, as the Pacific Islands Forum, as Dialogue Partners, this must be our legacy.

I thank you.

Kainaki II to COP 26 – Order of all Forum and Dialogue Partner speakers following opening statement:
*Forum members in bold

Fiji – Prime Minister, Hon. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama   Text  Audio 
Japan – Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, HE Nakanishi Satoshi  Text
France/EU- Minister, Overseas, Hon. Sébastien Lecornu Text
Nauru- President, HE Lionel Aingimea   Text  Audio
RMI-President, HE David Kabua  Audio
Samoa- Prime Minister, Hon. Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi  Text   Audio
French Polynesia- President, HE Edouard Fritch  Text  Audio
New Zealand– Prime Minister, Hon. Jacinda Ardern  Text   Audio  
Australia– Prime Minister, Hon. Scott Morrison Text  Audio
Cook Islands – Prime Minister, Hon. Mark Brown    Text Audio
Vanuatu – Prime Minister, Hon. Bob Loughman  Audio
Norway- Minister, Foreign Affairs, Hon. Ine Eriksen Søreide  Text  Audio
Spain/EU- Minister, Foreign Affairs, Hon. Arancha González Laya   Text Audio
EU- European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen Text  Audio
Palau – Minister, State, HE Faustina Rehuher-Marugg  Audio
FSM – Secretary, Environment, Climate Change & Emergency Management, Hon. Andrew Yatilman Audio
Solomon Islands – Minister, Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management & Meteorology,
Hon. Dickson Mua Panakitasi  Text Audio
Tuvalu – Minister, Justice, Communications and Foreign Affairs, Hon. Simon Kofe  Audio
Niue – Minister, Natural Resources, Hon. Esa Sharon-Mona Faitala Ainu’u   Audio
New Caledonia– Minister, Sustainable development, research and innovation and the Coral Sea Marine Park, Hon. Philippe Germain  Text
Korea – Deputy Minister and Ambassador for Climate Change, Republic of Korea, HE Yeon-chul Yoo  Text
Cuba, Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Environment, Adianez Taboada
UK- COP26 President Designate and Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Hon. Alok Sharma   Audio
Germany -Director General, International and European Policy / Climate Policy, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Dr. Karsten Sach Audio
Italy, Special Envoy for the Pacific Islands, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, HE Pier Francesco Zazo  Text Audio
China, Ambassador, Chinese Embassy in Fiji, HE Qian Bo  Text  Audio
Indonesia, Ambassador, Embassy of Indonesia to Fiji, HE RM Benyamin Scott Carnadi Text    Audio
Chile, Ambassador of Chile to NZ, HE Ignacio Llanos  Text   Audio
USA, Ambassador, U.S. Embassy in Fiji, HE Joseph Cella    Text   Audio 
Closing remarks- Forum Troika, Nauru
President HE Lionel Aingimea  Text   Audio


Youth voices at Opening/Closing formalities:
Kainaki to COP26 – our Pacific call – (video) Pacific youth
For Tony (deBrum) – (Poem) Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Climate Envoy, RMI
Mr President- (Song) Noemie, French Polynesia


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